The leading cause of death in our country and affecting one in three French people in terms of incidence over a lifetime, cancer is at the heart of research and public health concerns. Around 20% of research teams at Inserm and the CNRS (3,300 research scientists, engineers and technicians) work on this disease, which also benefits from generous funding at the CEA, in universities and other public organizations belonging to the French National Alliance for Life and Health Sciences (Inra, Inria, French Public Research Institute for Development [IRD] and Institut Pasteur).
These facts have led to the creation of a thematic multi-organization institute (ITMO) for cancer. This is managed by the French National Cancer Institute (INCa), whose research director will now also be the Director of the ITMO Cancer. The purpose of this thematic institute is to coordinate and oversee all of the stakeholders involved in cancer research in step with the INCa which funds competitive calls for projects. This smooth organization means that a site policy can be defined on the basis of excellence and a program can be tailored to the requirements of society in agreement with the scientific teams in the field.
At the ITMO Cancer, a standing committee represents various public research organizations. Moreover, guest research scientists also advise this group on developing areas. The Institute has conducted a review and drawn up a strategic document on research in oncology. These texts will be published and discussed by the whole community. Several strategic goals are already taking shape, including:
Along with Alzheimer’s and palliative care, cancer is one of the main priorites of the new presidential plan. Unlike the previous plan from 2003 to 2007, the Presidency’s mission letter puts research among the primary expectations. This funding opportunity requires priority subject areas to be defined on which we will focus our efforts in the years to come. Support for the very best teams will of course be strengthened, but we must also develop an ambitious site policy, enabling all research dimensions to cross paths in the same place: fundamental, clinical, technological, human and social sciences, epidemiology and public health. These interactions and this transdisciplinarity are essential for truly achieving translational research and making significant progress in cancer prevention, all the while bearing in mind the fact that fundamental research remains an essential tool, upstream, for future innovation. This interactive site policy, guaranteeing collective work, must also give us greater insight with a view to reducing inequalities when it comes to cancer, which are an all too real public health problem today.
Director of the Institute of Cancer